Previously considered to be a disease that only struck the wealthy, Gout is actually much more common than you might think. Its historical ties to overindulgence and the consumption of more expensive foods like red meat, alcohol, and seafood led many to believe it was a risk only for those who could afford to eat these items on a daily basis.
But in today’s society these foods are much easier to come by, meaning gout is much more prevalent. Considered a form of arthritis, gout is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood that creates painful crystals around the joints.
If you are one of the millions of Americans affected by gout, read on for some helpful tips about the dietary restrictions of gout and find a list of some gout-friendly foods.
General Dietary Rules for Living with Gout
The uric acid that builds up and causes the crystallization on your joints comes from the breakdown of a chemical called purine. While purine can be naturally found in your body, consuming foods with a high purine content can help to create an excess of the chemical and as a result, uric acid.
Managing your portions as well as following a low purine diet can help reduce the risk of gout attacks and may even aid in slowing the progression of damage to joints.
If you are overweight, your risk of developing gout is increased; therefore, losing weight is one way to prevent worsening symptoms.
It is also important to eat a balanced diet complete with complex carbs and alternative sources of protein as well as reduce the amount of saturated fats consumed.
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water has also been linked to a decrease in the frequency of gout attacks, so carrying a water bottle with you is also a great idea.
Good Gout Foods
Certain foods have been associated with easing the symptoms of gout attacks and decreasing their frequency.
Believe it or not, vegetables that are high in purine are actually good for you and will not increase your risk of a gout attack. Veggies like asparagus, peas, spinach, and mushrooms are all good choices as well as lentil and beans which double as sources of protein.
Your protein intake from lean meats and fish should be limited to 4-6 ounces a day, so along with beans and lentils, try adding in some low-fat or fat-free dairy options like yogurts and milk.
Vitamin C can help to lower the level of uric acid in your blood, so adding in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits or even chewing on a supplement may help with managing your symptoms.
Cherries are also helpful in lowering the risk of a gout attack, and even drinking your morning cup of coffee has been said to help.
Foods to Avoid with Gout
Just as there are foods that can help manage your gout, there are also ones that may exacerbate symptoms. If you are currently living with the disease, it is best to avoid organ and glandular meats like liver and kidney as well as specific seafood like anchovies, haddock, tuna, and scallops.
While not all alcohols affect your body in the same may, beers and distilled liquors are the most common type linked with the development and recurrence of gout.
Gout Diet Sample Menu
The Mayo Clinic has provided a sample menu for those living with gout to show a good example of what you can eat to help manage your symptoms.
For breakfast, they suggest whole-grain, unsweetened cereal with skim milk; some fresh strawberries; coffee; and water.
Lunch is outlined as a chicken sandwich made up of 2 ounces of roasted chicken breast on a whole-grain bun topped with mustard and a side salad of mixed greens. Water and skim-milk are the recommended beverages. If you’re partial to an afternoon snack,
the clinic suggests a cup of fresh cherries and water, while dinner could be 3-4 ounces of roasted salmon with green beans, whole grain pasta, and water.
You can even enjoy a healthy dessert of low-fat yogurt and fresh melon to satisfy your sweet tooth without turning to refined carbs like cakes that can lead to gout attacks.
Gout has been on the rise among Americans for the past 20 years, and with its prevalence, more research has been conducted into the management and prevention of the disease and its symptoms.
While it is always best to seek the advice of your doctor when faced with any health concerns, there is evidence that dietary changes can reduce and lessen the symptoms of gout attacks.
Carrera, A., “5 Good Foods for Gout,” Arthritis Foundation web site, http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/articles/low-purine-diet.php, last accessed January 12, 2017.